The finances of football clubs has been interesting for a while, as fans have increasingly been exploited and even forced out due to the rising costs of supporting a team.
In some ways that goes under the radar with football being seen as a luxury and not a right, but more people started to pay attention when clubs started taking taxpayer’s money to pay their staff.
We all know that some absurd amounts are paid in transfer fees and wages, so clubs then taking more money from the general public to keep funding themselves really is a moral disaster.
Liverpool have been the highest profile case where they announced they would use the government furlough scheme to pay non playing staff. In all fairness to the fans, their reaction and outrage worked as the club was forced into an embarrassing climb down:
The main problem here is that players are still being paid, so it’s easy to see why fans are annoyed that the club can seemingly afford to pay the staff, but would rather pounce on a government hand out instead.
It also looks like relations between the Premier League and the government are a bit tetchy going by some recent correspondence between the league’s Chief Exec Richard Masters and Julian Knight MP who chairs the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
In a letter to the MP seen by CaughtOffside, Masters had said that: “The Furlough scheme announced by the government is meant for the whole economy” and ” we do agree with you that restraint needs to be shown”.
While those comments might seem fair enough, Julian Knight MP lambasted Masters with the following comments in an official statement seen by CaughtOffside:
“It is frankly laughable to think that clubs are showing restraint on use of government money to pay non-playing staff and flies in the face of public opinion. Liverpool has listened to fans, done the right thing and changed its mind.”
“It is time for the Premier League to stop defending the indefensible. They should be working out a way to carry on paying the wages of club staff without resorting to taking money from the government scheme.”
Clearly clubs are worrying about their finances and their ability to come through this crisis and football may not be the same afterwards, but it’s also clear that taking public money is never going to be a good look.
Time will tell how bad things are, but it sounds like clubs shouldn’t be expecting much more help from the government at this point.